Nov. 28/11 -- Staying Busy Post Return

Today's Report

A quick summary of activities that have kept Saito-san and the Saito 8 Committee busy over recent weeks.

The Skipper

We've lost track of all the articles, interviews, and news clips in the national and local media – newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, as well as web – that have appeared or will soon appear. Some we are called about; others we only learn about later.

To summarize them: Wow! Amazing! And always: Minoru Saito is what disaster-shocked Japan especially needs now.

At the top of all this national exposure is the NHK music special that was filmed in mid October and airs tomorrow night. It's a 90-minute charity show starring a number of Japan's top singers, during which Saito-san is treated to a lively on-stage interview by a team of presenters. Images from the voyage will be shown.

If you have access to NHK, Japan's national public TV network, you can watch it here:

Tuesday, November 29th at 19:30, "Kayo Charity Concert" on Channel 1 (NHK).

(Not in Japan? We know of one Saito Japanese expat friend who plans to view it with her husband on their cable -- on their cattle ranch in rural Texas.)

Congratulatory Parties

Saito-san was feted two Tuesdays ago at Tycoon Restaurant, where nearly 70 friends and supporters came to congratulate him. Among the several highlights of the evening:
  • Brief congratulatory calls with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (in London), Rose Bliss (in Santiago), Don McIntyre (in Fiji), and Brian Peterson (in Auckland). (See Note)
  • The ceremonial signing of the circumnavigation start and finish affidavits by Junya Hirose and Katsuhiko Ida, who were the "official witnesses" for the circumnavigation record.
  • An engrossing interview of Saito-san by Nico Roehreke, president and CEO of main sponsor Nicole BMW.
  • Certificates of appreciation to sponsors and Saito 8 Committee members, gratefully handed out by Saito-san and Hunter Brumfield, as the executive director of Saito Challenge 8.
We greatly appreciate their participation with the calls, which were tricky across so many time zones and with the tight party schedule. Each of these folks helped Saito-san during the voyage; in the case of Sir Robin, history's first non-stop solo circumnavigator, it was a chat between two long-time sailing pals. Our only disappointment was not being able to complete the call with Dave Cooper, who headed Team Hawaii and was instrumental in solving major problems over hundreds of volunteer man-hours, allowing Saito-san to safely depart Honolulu.

We'd once more like to express our deep appreciation to Nico Roehreke and our Supporting Sponsors and contributors for making Saito Challenge 8 possible. And to the members of the Saito 8 Support Committee, started here in Japan and eventually spread to the far corners of the world.

Main Sponsor
Nicole BMW

Supporting Sponsors
American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
Barilla Japan
ClearPoint Weather
Dave Cooper and Team Hawaii
Fujiki Group
Japan Radio Corp.
Henri Lloyd
Nicole Group
Rogers Investment Advisors
Tokyo American Club
Tycoon Restaurant
U.S. Dairy Export Council
Wolver Hill Asset Management
Yasuda Gakuen Alumni Association

Several other parties are planned, including one being thrown in Saito's honor by his high school alumni association this evening. Yasuda Gakuen Alumni Association contributed funds and regularly updated its members on Saito-san's progress in its newsletter.

The Boat

Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III will spend a final week on the floating dock at Tycoon Restaurant in Yokohama, which has also been Saito-san's home most days since he arrived. (He's also been residing in Tokyo as the guest of an old friend, a Buddhist priest.) The generosity of Kota Fujiki and his staff during the now more than two months that NBSDIII has been there has been extraordinary, including not just the berth but also free food, and the use of the restaurant's amenities, including electrical power, security – and not least – a hot shower.

As attested to by the arrival pictures, NBSDIII was severely damaged during the voyage, both at Cape Horn and Punta Arenas in Chile, and through wear & tear on the arduous "wrong-way" east-west circumnavigation.

So this weekend, assisted by Saito 8 Safety Officer Mike Seymour, Simon Gougis, and Hisato Mori, Saito-san will move the vessel about 90 nm to Arari Shipbuilders, a marine facility owned and operated by Mori-san in a harbor on west Izu Peninsula. There she will be hauled out for bottom cleaning and inspection, and a decision will be made on whether to attempt a long list of repairs.

There's also hope to sell her, but that's a decision to be faced probably next spring.

Oct. 17/11 -- A Pair of Stars

Today's Report
Oct. 17/11 JST 

It was a very good week for Saito-san and NBSDIII, as both stars shined in their own ways.

On Friday, he was filmed as part of an upcoming NHK music special to raise money for the earthquake- and tsunami-stricken area of Japan. During a break in the 90-minute charity concert, he was interviewed on stage by two TV personalities in front of a 3,000-person audience filling a large hall in Gunma Prefecture, forty minutes by bullet train east of Tokyo.

Saito-san was the only non-singer in the star-studded night of entertainment that was recorded for airing on Nov. 29. Nonetheless he was a perfect fit, as his "Never give up!" mantra was the theme of the evening while nationally known TV stars and singers voiced their own encouragement for the recovery of the area and its populace, still reeling more than seven months after the March 11 disaster.

Saito-san was impressive. He expresses no fear of the very worst the sea can throw at him, and he was equally relaxed on stage as he described his harrowing circumnavigation to an obviously captivated audience. He handled the questions and comments of his interviewers with cheerful modesty, reciting the highlights of his 3-year adventure that were met by exclamations of amazement throughout the packed hall.

We couldn't have been prouder. We look forward ourselves to seeing him on the country's public television network, when millions of viewers across Japan can be expected to tune in.

Back at home on Sunday, at her temporary quay-side berth at Tycoon Restaurant in Yokohama, Nicole BMW Shuten-Dohji III got some sprucing up from a group of volunteers from the Tokyo Sail & Power Squadron.

The intent at the moment is to keep her appearance basically "as-is" to reflect the punishing rigors of the 28,000-nm, 3-year, wrong-way circumnavigation. But at least the clutter on the deck is now history, thanks to the valiant efforts by Saito 8 Safety Officer Mike Seymour, Saito-san, five TSPS members (Tony Whitman, Chris Pitts, Mike Snyder, Simon Gougis, and David Young), Saito-san's always ready-to-help sailing buddies Kogane-san and Igawa-san, and Arai-san, a welcome new face. 

We invite you to drop by Tycoon (map here) and, as you savor some delightful Thai and Asian cuisine, you can see for yourself the much-tidier "other star" of Saito Challenge 8.

The skipper may be there as well...

Oct. 3/11 JST – A Busy Day on Television

Today's Report
Oct. 3/11 JST 

Saito-san was the guest interviewee in the noontime TV Asahi news program "Lunch News Access," shown across Japan on digital satellite. They did a great job interspersing commentary with dramatic images of the trip. It was the sort of "gee-whiz!" interviews he's getting used to now, but it was particularly telling how it hit home, judging by the rapt attention of the 15 or so young TV staff as they watched on the studio monitors.

Arriving home in late afternoon we learned that NHK Television had today aired a 7-minute clip – in English – that Saito-san enjoyed watching, including a personalized and well researched presentation featuring his sailing background, a dramatic report of his voyage, and a clever animation of the circumnavigation.
Several other TV programs are in the works, including a major NHK special in November to help raise money for survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He's to appear first on the program, as the only non-singer among a dozen or so top vocalists in Japan.

He won't sing, but the truth is his voice isn't half bad… and he favors Italian opera (not to mention Japan's absolute favorite -- Frank Sinatra singing "My Way").

Day 1080 + 7 [Sep. 24/11 JST] – Accolades for Saito-san

 Today's Report
Sep. 24/11 JST 

The emails and calls have been pouring in and so we'll devote today's update to those. They're in no particular order, but this first one comes from the most famous of all living sailors – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation.

Please give my congratulations to Saito-san on yet another determined circumnavigation. His success will bring great pleasure to his many friends.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

In his message below, Hitoshi Hanaoka mentions his role in passing, but he did much, much more than merely interpret for Saito-san. He was instrumental in Saito-san's survival both on water and land during the 9 months he was in the Cape Horn area.

I know Saito-san has arrived in Japan through my partners in business. A lot of people will be so impressed by his achievement. I want to say some words to Saito-san.

I received a call from the Chilean Navy in April of 2 years ago. They asked me to come act as interpreter for a Japanese sailor after he had a problem near Diego de Almagro Island.

I have been working in the fishing business in here for many years and I know over a thousand island names, but I never heard of Diego de Almagro island, because this isolated island is 60 NM south of Cape Horn and smaller fishing boats cannot reach there.

A few months later, he had repaired his boat and tried to go back to Cape Horn and successfully pass it, but 48 hours after he passed the Cape, the main engine stopped, then a few hours later the generator stopped. He could use only the sails but then they were damaged by strong wind. Finally it was impossible to sail, but still he could control the boat near the entrance of the Strait of Magellan.

He fixed the boat and went out again -- two days later he hit a strong storm in the southern part of Chile, the Golfo de Pena. This time he could get through this storm. A lot of sailors died in that area and they could not go smoothly, I wondered.

A long time ago people thought that if you go more south from Cape Horn, it was the edge of this world and the entrance of nethermost Hell. That time the Diego de Ramirez island area where Saito passed was just the entrance of Hell.

However, the Cape Horn area is the hard part that could not stop Saito with his obsession and sailing technique.

This is the story I wanted to mention as I know it of Saito-san's most hard time starting from Diego de Alamagro as he went through the southernmost part of Chile.

You really made it by west round-the-world sailing. Congratulations!

Hitoshi Hanaoka
Punta Arenas, Chile

Saito and Hanaoka
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Hanaoka-san during this time when so many difficulties occurred. His company supplied free or much-discounted services as well as helped prepare NBSDIII for the several, and ultimately successful, attempts to transit Cape Horn.

Saito-san and we also owe a great deal to British and Spanish expats Rose Bliss and her husband, Pablo, for their affection, support, and frequent home-cooked meals (not to mention the occasional hot showers) provided to Saito-san over the frigid Chilean winter.

Rose, thank you for being Saito-san's "guardian angel" during this time!

Rose and Saito-san
I know you will ecstatic when he finally arrives. Quite an achievement, not just for him, but for you and all the folks you managed, coaxed, and urged to stick with the adventure until the end.
Congratulations to all!

Boyd Gatlin
Starkville, Miss. USA

After all this time Saito-san’s return seems quite an anticlimax – only those following the full epic story day-to-day from start to finish know what this 77 (almost 78) year old intrepid sailor achieved following the never-give-up spirit.

Having followed Saito-san’s progress from start to finish and suffered at least mentally with him the many setbacks it would be a privilege indeed to shake the great man’s hand and congratulate him personally on this stellar achievement.


You and The Team cannot be congratulated highly enough on your fantastic efforts (and results!).

I am experiencing emotions that are difficult to describe knowing that this epic journey of immense courage, colossal internal strength, and masses of distinction are coming to a graceful end.

If you recall, I had the privilege of meeting Saito-San here in Cape Town (at the same time as Mike Perham and the subsequent signed picture that I forwarded to you), and following his voyages is something that words cannot attempt to describe.

Please forward my massive congratulations to this historic sailor.

Fair Winds To All!

Alan Hughes
Cape Town, South Africa

Autographed picture by Minoru Saito and Mike Perham (click to enlarge)

I read in the newspaper that Saito-san had arrived at Yokohama safe.

He is 77 years old! It is a remarkable thing! I thought that it took much courage to sail around the world. He showed me that one is never too old to fulfill one's dreams.

I'm very pleased that Saito-san and Hunter-san's dream came true.
Good for you!

Yuki Yoshioka

Saito-san is to be congratulated both for a voyage very well completed and for his perseverance in doing so.  He faced each problem and challenge as it arrived and with patience and experience, resolved it and moved on.  It was both challenging and educational to follow his daily progress and reports and see what new lesson it would bring. Congratulations Saito for a job well done, even down to eking the last ounce of strength out of his tired sails as he completed the final miles (or kilometers!) through potentially stormy conditions.

It was a joy to see how many people had been following his progress after the successful end of the journey was announced by Chief Commander Frank Dvorak at the United States Power Squadrons Governing Board meeting first thing last Saturday (Sat 17 Sept) morning in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Kenneth Griffing
Past Commander
District 13
United States Power Squadrons
Hacienda Heights, CA

Captain Saito, Hunter san:

Congratulations!!!!! He stayed alive and never gave up!

Thank you so much such a wonderful record each time sending me and so we could watch his activities over such a long period. All gave us full of hope and happiness. I am so glad to share this moment with many people and friends supported.

Much friendship with Fair Winds,

Mena Sato
(From a catamaran in Palau)

I am thrilled for Saito-san and for all of you who have stuck with
him through the years!  Johnny and Abbi were captivated by his journey, and
his example of quiet, steady perserverance.  Please know how very much this
journey has meant for all of us, and please tell Saito-san that he was, and
is, an inspiration to many across the globe.

John Plewes, M.D. and family

We're all so thrilled that Saito-san has made it back safely after all this time. Please give him our best and tell him "Omedeto!" for us. What a wonderful accomplishment!

Susan and Aaron Farris
San Antonio, Texas

Please tell Saito-san we are so happy he succeeded once again. It is so wonderful for people like us of our generation (you know, I am over 80 myself) to be able to see someone like him do such an amazing thing.

Luke and I were happy to see that that the goodluck rattlesnake charm Luke gave him worked again!

Tokio and Luke Rogers
(By phone from their ranch near Austin, Texas)

The crumbled remains of a rattlesnake charm carried on two circumnavigations
So happy to read you are safe in Japan. We are all so proud of you here in Newport!!

God bless and keep you,

Barbara Brugman
Newport Rhode Island

Terrific news!

Hope to have more time later to go through all the news. Please pass on our regards to Saito-san for this historic accomplishment!!

Nona and Pooch Pucciariello
Washington, DC

Congratulations to Mr. Saito on another amazing accomplishment!

Mary South
Deputy Editor, YACHTING magazine

Please forward my congratulations to Mr. Saito for a very impressive and inspiring adventure. We have written this piece about it:

I would also like to be kept informed about Mr. Saito's coming adventures.

Jon Amtrup

Hi Hunter,

I recall Saito's getting by Cape Horn with an easterly only to have it turn into a long winter's "sleep" in Punta Arenas. Or before, in Cape Town, with the youngsters [solo circumnavigators Zack Sunderland and Mike Perham], each going his own way. And the earthquake etc., etc.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill.

And you are off-watch! And a longer watch than expected....

Congratulations to all,

Robert M. Lux, M.D.
Concord, NH 03301

Hi, Hunter san,
I am so happy to receive your message directly. In fact, my group SSCA (USA) searched for Kifu at that time, eventually found Mr. Saito in near Port Williams, thought he was the missing person, when a friend sent me a local newspaper article of about Mr. Saito's activities. They also congratulate him and it reminds all of missing Kifu at that time.
The family of Mr. Chinami now has accepted his accident. Thank you again for your support indeed.

Fair Winds, Mena

At the time Saito-san cleared Cape Horn, Keiichi Chinami was in his ketch Kifu on his own circumnavigation and sadly disappeared within a few hundred miles of Saito-san's position during a severe storm. Several weeks later we were able to help clear up confusion that occurred when it was thought that Chinami-san might have been the Japanese sailor reported at Puerto Williams, Chile, rather than Saito-san. We commented on this at the time. More can be read here. Our deepest condolences, again, to the family of Chinami-san who himself was an amazingly brave sailor from Japan on his own personal dream to sail the world.
Hi Hunter….

What an amazing story for Minoru…you…and your team…I have never seen anything like it before!!...personally you deserve a medal!!...really…you held the whole thing together, so well done…Minoru will be swamped for sure with attention over the next few weeks…but some time when it is quiet please give him our best from Margie and me…we followed it in amazement…what a hero…we still have a laugh about that…but only Minoru will understand that…

I can imagine your life will change now…it has been a long three years hey!!!

All the best …warm regards and admiration for you both.

Don & Margie McIntyre
Hobart, Tasmania

This message, received from an island in the South Pacific, is from a dear friend of Saito-san's, going back to when they competed in the 1990 BOC Challenge. Don & Margie own and operate a marine service assisting nature studies in the frigid Southern Ocean and Antartic. (Maybe we're easily impressed, but Don is the only person we know with his own icebreaker!)

This is an article he wrote for Sailing World magazine.

Saito-san called him by Iridium the day after we got this message, to their mutual delight.

Congratulations to Saito and your team!

Derek Nakamura
Honolulu, Hawaii

Wow what a trip. What an ordeal. How is Saito San? Tell him we are proud and pleased to see he made it. He will always have a fond place in our hearts.  As you do also.

Ric & Ardell
San Diego, CA
(Formerly of Keehi Marina, Honolulu, living aboard several berths over from NBSDIII.)

I'd really like to hear some of his stories; I’ll bet he has quite a few incredible tales.

Dennis Gans

This has been an amazing odyssey. We should be most thankful for folks like Hunter. Well done to all.
Thank you for including me in the journey.

All the best,
Dick Kyle
Past National Education Officer
United States Power Squadrons

This was forwarded to us by Ken Griffing, Past Commander of District 13 of the USPS. Saito-san is a member of Tokyo Sail & Power Squadron, a unit of D13.


Congratulations due now...?

Hope Saito-san safely in port and finished now...!

Jeanne on 'Nereida'
Southampton, England

Jeanne Socrates is the word record holder as the oldest woman to complete a solo circumnavigation at age 64, and was avidly following Saito-san even during her voyage. She endured her own hardships and her blog makes for some amazing reading on her own courageous accomplishments, including saving her vessel after it was rolled near the Falklands.

We are very pleased to have been able to provide this service to Saito in his travels.  Congratulations on a successful voyage. 

SeaStar (A division of Geoeye, Inc.)

A plug for the company that provided the GPS beacon position reports, a paid service but one we valued four times a day for 3 years – and took tremendous comfort in as we tracked Saito-san during some very tense moments on the voyage. What a great assist to blue water cruisers (and their families)!


This has all been so amazing. I cannot believe that so much has happened since we went up to Maine with him.

Please tell him "Congratulations!" for me. I look forward to the next time I can see him either here or in Japan.

Robert Brumfield
Spring City, Tennessee

(From his live-aboard houseboat in a lake in Middle Tennessee. Brother Bob was one of the drivers with Ken and Reyna Henry of Los Angeles, CA, Saito-san, Eiko and me, in our RV "expedition" to Maine to inspect prospective boats.)

Congratulations to Saito-san, of course, but also to you and your team for a marathon effort over the past thousand-plus days.

Chris Pitts

Aloha, here is a photo posted 6 minutes ago from Yokohama of his arrival.
Happy day for him and all that supported him
Congratulations Saito-san!


Dave Cooper
Team Hawaii

Picture sent by Dave from the web

Saito-san and Dave Cooper
Thanks so very much! All I can say is... YIIIPPPPEEE!!!!!

Scott Gilbert
Honolulu, Hawaii

Scott, Ed Abott, and Dave Cooper were the key people who gathered Team Hawaii together and relentlessly campaigned to get NBSDIII repaired (and Saito-san!) to make the final leg of the circumnavigation.

We reprint here the thank you email from Nico Roehreke, president of Nicole BMW, the main sponsor of Saito Challenge 8, expressing his appreciation to our volunteers in Hawaii:

Hello Dave and Team Hawaii:

Although we haven't had the opportunity of meeting in person, we certainly have a common friend. My great thanks to you and everyone in your team back in Hawaii. Without your selfless dedication, it simply wouldn't have been possible to ensure Saito-san's safe return during the last leg of his epic journey.

It has truly been a great adventure for everyone involved and I'm sure it will continue to live on in our hearts and minds as one of those rare and special moments in life when regular time stood still and allowed us to take part, for a fleeting moment, in one of the greatest adventures of our times.

Our gratitude and well wishes go out to you and every single one of your team.

Nico Roehreke
Nicole Group of Companies

The list of people who assisted Saito-san -- in Japan, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, South Africa, Punta Arenas, Chile, Valdivia, Chile, the Galapagos, Hawaii, Ogasawara Japan, and now again in Yokohama, as well as through encouragement and donations from all over the world -- is simply too long to post here.

But we're working on it!

Day 1080+2 [Sep. 19/11 JST] – Saito-san's Moment

Today's Report
Sep. 19/11 JST 

Position:  35°27'N, 139°39'E
Remaining to Yokohama:  0 nm / 100% finished

Flying the Japanese and U.S. flags, Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III and her beaming skipper eased into Yokohama Harbor in 20-kt winds at 10:25 am Saturday, Sep. 17, to be greeted by a throng of supporters, well wishers, and media. It was one of those moments that are recorded digitally and forever in memory. And this was definitely Minoru Saito's moment.

Saito-san in his moment of triumph
Thanks in good part to today's "Respect for the Elderly" national holiday, but also of course to the remarkable feat itself, various newspapers carried brief articles the next day but as a visual it was hard to beat the sight of the rusted and battered NBSDIII slowly moving toward the pier. On Fuji TV, Japan's top TV network, the morning news show carried a surprisingly long telephone interview with him. You heard his voice, with no video of him talking, and that gave them plenty of time to show a number of amazing photographs from the trip, and not least, "before" and "after" photographs of the boat herself.

The visual image projected: How could anyone, not to mention an old guy of 77 years, manage to survive a 3-year journey that subjected a 25-ton steel yacht to so much punishment?

Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III on arrival

Even before today's 6:30 am newscast, and another scheduled later today by TBS, another national network, Saito-san has apparently become something of a national hero. Yesterday afternoon we were with him at "Elephant Nose Park" a quayside area that has a double-level pedestrian walkway that looks down onto the boat and is close enough for many hundreds – thousands -- of passersby to take photographs, and many of whom call out "Omedeto (Congratulations)!" Their faces erupt in big smiles when Saito-san waves back and cheerily responds back, "Domo arigato!"

This IS of course, one of the big reasons for the circumnavigation, and for his oft-stated admonition to "Never give up!" which he immediately launched into in his welcome-home press interviews. It is just what Japan needs to hear in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, the tsunami devastation, and the nuclear-reactor(s) disaster that followed and is still very much a national crisis.

Japan has never needed a hero as it does now, someone to admire and see as an embodiment of the nation's ability to cope. Someone just a bit bigger than  life who can say something to the effect that "See, I could do it, and it wasn't easy, but so can YOU…" as the country gets back on its feet again, bowed, shaken, but still unbroken.

Coming soon: Photos from the homecoming. 

For the next several weeks the Saito 8 Support Committee will have its hands full, working on at least these immediate goals:

1. Figuring out what might be done with NBSDIII, which honors her as well. At least initially she will be tied up at locations where she will be easily seen and remarked over. Later is the bigger question mark.

2. Arranging a celebratory party for Saito-san that, as one committee leader expressed it, "reflects the feeling that people have – not many people are in a celebratory mood right now."

3. Inviting the media, companies, community groups, and event organizers to enlist Saito-san as a person of great public interest, for special interest stories, speaking engagements, and personal appearances.

4. Express appreciation to the many people and communities who assisted him throughout the circumnavigation.

5. And perhaps help Saito-san, who gave up his apartment of 30-plus years to go to sea, to recover some semblance of off-the-water life. (For the moment he will live aboard, given special – actually extraordinary it just ain't done – permission to do so by the Yokohama Port Authority.)

Of course the one thing he keeps being asked is, "So what's next, Saito-san?" at which point he grins and launches into an idea (he always returns from the sea with these grand plans) to next do a north-south circumnavigation.

Why? Same reason as his "wrong way" voyage:

"I've never done it that way before!"

We apologize for the several-days break in the Daily Log. We were away from broadband and caught up in the many media requests and several appearances of Saito-san, finally regaining some semblance of normalcy, thus this entry.